Friday, April 30, 2010

Loving / Being Loved

Humans spend an inordinate amount of time wanting, wishing, waiting, and trying to be loved. Many of the untold decisions that we make are made with the hope of being loved. Many of the seemingly inconsequential actions we take are for the same reason. We feel incomplete when we lack the love of someone we hope to be loved by. We feel alone, we feel unwanted, we feel insignificant. Our self-esteem plummets. We are minimized, and become marginalized by our own experience, in our own eyes, and in the perception of others. Those of you who have been without love understand that all too clearly.

However, many people are controlled by their need to be loved, and some even try to control others regarding the manner in which they wish to be loved. Many suffer serious debilitating illnesses when those expectations are not adequately met. I knew a woman who, in an attempt to be loved ‘the way she wanted to be loved’ took on a mysterious illness as a means of getting the love (attention) that she was lacking. Doctors never found anything wrong with her, but for many years they appeased her in that need by sending her to a myriad of different specialists, and prescribing a pharmacies worth of different medications to make her feel better. She welcomed those drugs like a fish welcomes water. It has, over the years, been a horrendous abuse of the Health Care system, and an even worse (self-generated) collapse of her own dignity. Of course, her basic need for control continued to prevail. It was easier for her to be sick than to be honest. That, obviously, was the actual illness. It was easier to illicit sympathy than to embrace reality. It was just easier for her.
Eventually the illness will kill her. It is the case with many people.
Dishonesty kills.

Love takes courage.

Lacking that courage, it is very common for people to make themselves unlovable, rejecting the love of others because it is not the ‘kind’ of love they want, and then resenting not being loved by the same ones whose love they have dismissed. That resentment, ultimately, leads to depression and eventual personal deterioration. Defining how one wants to be loved, rather than accepting someone else’s love for what it is, is, also, often what drives people to seek compromised solutions, becoming willing to settle for a semblance of love, oftentimes in the forbidden, in the mysterious, or the profane. Some will embrace a substitute as if it were love itself.

Love is something we don’t really want to live without. The modern day ‘love yourself’ theology, and movement, emerged as a comfortable way to compensate for our own un-loveliness, for our own compromised position in the world, and for the ever deepening void of authentic love in our lives. Those lacking a fundamental love will eventually embrace either self-loathing or self-love to fill the emptiness. Love is a very powerful thing. I believe that we should respect ourselves, we should love that we are diverse, unique, interesting and complex individuals, and that we should embrace the presence, and growth, of love within ourselves; not ‘of’ ourselves, but ‘within’ ourselves. The ‘I love myself’ way of thinking seems just a little creepy to me. I know people who are in love with themselves, and believe me, it’s not very pretty.

Then there are those who want to be loved by everyone; everyone they know, and everyone they meet. They can’t be happy unless they feel loved by all. But if everybody loves you based on how you act in seeking their approval, more likely than not, you have some deep, secret, and serious issues, some honesty avoidance issues, or some kind of chameleon personality. No one really knows another like they think they do, and love seekers are not really known by anyone. They conceal their faults and failures like a cheap suit covers a flawed body. If one’s consuming focus is on being loved, one will never really love somebody else, they can only pretend at it. When one seeks to just meet their own needs, to the exclusion of the needs of others, they compromise the act of receiving love, they subvert it, and they invalidate it. They seek to take love, rather than to be given it. They cheapen love, and they overthrow its basic intent. Love will not be taken. It is always given because that’s what love does. That’s what love is.
It gives of itself.

Loving is not necessarily always doing what somebody else would like, or even what they think might satisfy them. Sometimes it is being, for them, the voice of reason, the solid ground from which their soul can take root and grow.
Sometimes love is coming to the rescue.
And sometimes love is doing nothing at all.

In many respects it takes the love of others to enable our own ability to love. But it can also be said that loving enables ones ability to be loved.
It works both ways.
Personally, I think that when we cultivate loving, the love of others finds us.
It just finds us, usually unexpectedly,
but it finds us.